Tuesday, September 19, 2006

India's health minister has called a meeting of officials from states which have recorded new polio cases

Geeta Pandey:

A total of 297 cases of the disease, which usually attacks children under five years, have been reported this year.

Particularly worrying has been the case of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh where 269 cases of the disease have been recorded.

Last year, only 66 cases of polio were recorded in India.

A highly infectious disease, polio affects the nervous system and can result in paralysis.

It is transmitted through contaminated food and drinking water, contact with faeces from an infected person or contaminated swimming pool water.

Before 1988, when the World Health Organisation launched a global anti-polio campaign, there were more than 350,000 cases.

Today the disease has been eradicated in much of the world but is still endemic in some countries.

Till 12 September this year, 1,228 cases of polio have been recorded globally.

With its 297 cases, India is seen as a big stumbling block in the eradication of polio from the world.

A strain of the disease, which originated in Uttar Pradesh state, has also travelled to the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh.

It has also infected people in faraway African countries like Angola, Namibia and Congo.

Concerned by the surge in the number of new cases, the Indian Health Minister, Anbumani Ramadoss, has called a meeting of the health officials from the eight affected states.

The meeting, scheduled for Thursday, will be attended by health ministers from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

Ministry officials say the meeting will review the implementation of the polio eradication strategy in India and discuss ways to reach out to the entire population.

Officials are particularly alarmed by the large number of infections being reported from among the Muslim population.

A health ministry official told the BBC that 67% of the infections were among Muslims, while the remaining 33% have been reported from the Hindu community.

He said rumours that the polio vaccine is actually a form of birth control and part of a western conspiracy to reduce the Muslim birth rate have led to many families shunning it in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

The official said the health ministry has now roped in imams (priests) and community leaders to reach out to Muslims and assure them that the vaccine can save the lives of their children.

India, under fire, vows to eliminate polio by 2007

Polio Returns to Northern India, Worrying Other Countries


At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He said rumours that the polio vaccine is actually a form of birth control and part of a western conspiracy to reduce the Muslim birth rate...

Not a bad idea...


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